Walking Through Bridgetown (In September 2020)

Bridgetown – the capital of Barbados. To say that Bridgetown looks, feels and is a lot different from just a few months ago, is an understatement. If you’re somewhere else on the map, I figure the same goes for whatever the capital is wherever you are.

For obvious reasons at this time, the well-known shopping hub in ‘Bim’ is still balding in the business department since ‘re-opening’, and most of the upscale jewelry stores and tourist gathering spots are represented by closed doors. Lines are longer outside of banks while inside you could hear a pin drop (if you dropped one.)

Now, the protocol is: wear a face mask when entering, and for ‘security’ reasons, pull it down long enough for the camera to capture your face, then pull up again as you get in line and wait your turn to see the teller. Where entering a bank with a mask was a reason for alarm just a few blinks ago, now it’s ‘the norm.’

The renowned Broad Street, home to signature visitor shopping mall, Cave Shepherd is now a lot lighter than Swan Street, which is typically more popular among Bajans for special deals on items like clothes, all kinds of household items, sewing supplies, cooking spices, deli food, natural juices, sweet treats and more. Where the Parliament Buildings, a few banks, a major pharmacy, two Credit Unions, otherwise-open internationally-known jewelry store chains are sprinkled along Broad Street, the volume changes dramatically once you step foot in vibrant Swan Street, where even Bds$10. (Usd.$5.) can get you an item of clothing or a combo of 5 curry spices (if you know where to look or who to ask.)

on the left of this one-way road is a bank and opposite is the edge of the Cave Shepherd building.

There are quite a few side streets in town, some of which have stalls where people sell clothing, shoes, shades – things like that, and then there are quiet alleys with little foot traffic.

I’ve never heard anyone who is from Barbados express even an ounce of joy at ‘having to go to town,’ but over time I’ve come to enjoy taking the route less travelled – appreciating the scenery whenever town trips come up. It’s generally beaming over here when it’s sunny (majority of the time – 29-32C avg.) and some days are either humid, rainy or a blend of all the above, making meandering through a crowd or along busy streets…a bit of an art form, challenge, HIIT workout, and character test.

A town trip can leave you winded if you’re walking for any length of time, but it can also be quite light when you share an unexpected smile with a tired customer service rep or make a note to notice beautiful scenery, greenery or architecture every now and then along the way.

Bridgetown – boatside. Where catamaran cruises and boat cleaning and offloading were frequent activities up to a few months ago, it’s pretty quiet on the water now. Ever heard of Waterfront Cafe? Well, the restaurant and jazz spot closed down before the national curfew but it used to be along that building on the right. See the red roof in the distance up ahead? That’s the main Bus Terminal/Station, where, if you’re realllly patient, you can get one for Bds.$3.50 (Usd.$1.75). Broad Street is on the left (when looking at this pic – 2 streets over, and Swan Street is parallel to that.)
In full sun, you’ll ‘sweat bricks’ but a quiet stroll along this boardwalk leads from one end of town to the next, minus the crowd but with busy cars and trucks passing by. Oh, and ever heard of Chefette? Well, that’s one branch in the building on the left downstairs.
See the bright orange part of the wall by that random office chair? That was where Waterfront Cafe used to be. This whole complex, before national curfew a few months ago and when leisure travel was ‘a thing,’ was always full of people, mostly visitors – day and night. This is the first time in my entire life I’ve ever seen it completely empty, on a ‘ business day.’ Most of the souvenir shops and restaurants are closed.
Another former gathering spot for cruise ship visitors, on the way to the harbour. Doors closed daily, and For Rent signs on store fronts at the other side of this huge building.

As someone who works from home, traveling to town in these times is…interesting, to say the least. Some shops are still fairly busy (while following current national protocols), like Woolworth, ProSales and #1 Beauty Supply, but the outdoor standing-in-the-sun bank and immigration lines is odd to see…it’s a reminder that the Bridgetown experience has become something new…and will continue to…

Just thought to share some of the pics I took for y’all to have an inside view of what town looks like ‘today.’ It may not be a constant hub of activity, a picture-perfect postcard or must-do meeting-spot these days but if you do happen to venture into town in these times, I hope you find something, someone or somewhere to appreciate.

There are still ’nuff shopping nooks and tropical delis open and if you venture to the grounds of The Frank Collymore Hall and Queens Park, you’ll find quaint gardens to sit on a bench and cool off just on the outskirts of town.

P.S: If you’re making a trip to Barbados in 2020, check out which businesses and shopping centres are open in advance or just plan your visit to town as an architectural adventure and island shopping venue finder. A beautiful island that’s not without its share of challenges, so please be wise and safe.

Related post: Trees & Flora Of Queens Park & 7 Peaceful Things To Do On A Tropical Rainy Day | Related page: Barbados

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